Chris Christie and the Republican future

At this late hour it does not matter what anyone writes for purposes of influencing the election. Let’s discuss a serious point. Chris Christie's reaching out to Barack Obama in a bipartisan spirit in the closing days of the campaign clearly helped Obama, and I would have to assume was designed to help Obama or done with the knowledge it would help Obama. Think about it. This is extraordinary.

It is also extraordinary that either Mitt Romney did not invite Christie to appear with him in the closing hours of the campaign, or he did, and Christie declined.

Christie publicly and courageously represents a large but rarely acknowledged school of thought among serious Republicans, including some (but not all) serious conservatives who fear the GOP has gone far too intensely in the direction of derision and disrespect of political opponents and alternative viewpoints.

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Starting on Wednesday this will break into the open regardless of who wins. Romney, whose statements can never be taken at face value because he changes his positions with the sunrise, will undoubtedly have to move in directions, which will truly anger the Republican right if he is elected. If Obama is elected, there will be major antagonism from the right directed at Christie, which will inspire other Republicans to speak out in defense of Christie.

If Democrats retain the Senate, there will be three reasons. First, unquestioned political genius of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Second, a brilliant performance by Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), who put together one of the strongest groups of Democratic Senate candidates in memory. But third, another election where Senate Republicans ran too many candidates who were far off the cliff to the right of American politics.

As I write this, either candidate can win the presidential race and either party can win control of the Senate. My own predictions were included in The Hill today, but are offered with only modest confidence.

What is clear is that Chris Christie's role in this campaign will be the subject of intense debate for months to come, and will begin a serious and long-delayed debate about the future of the Republican Party that is far to the right of America, and far to the right of their nominee for president, whether Romney wins or loses.